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Dutch city renames square it had named for mayor who betrayed Jews to Nazis

Jetze Tjalma, who was mayor of Hogeveen for 30 years, was recently shown to have been the first local mayor to hand over his city’s Jews, which he did voluntarily

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — A Dutch municipality has renamed a park that had been named for a mayor who helped the Nazis hunt his city’s Jews.

The municipality of Hogeveen, a city of about 55,000 roughly 80 miles northeast of the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, last month renamed Mayor Tjalma Park, according to a report Thursday on the news site Jonet.nl. The new name is Municipal Park.

In 2020, a local historian discovered that Jetze Tjalma, who had been mayor of Hoogeveen for 30 years until 1958, was the first mayor in Nazi-occupied Netherlands to hand over a list of local Jews after the German army invaded in 1940.

There were about 250 names on the list. In 1951, Hogeveen had only 27 Jews, according to the Jewish Historical Museum of Amsterdam.

Tjalma shared the list voluntarily, according to Brand van Rijn, a local politician whose party, SGP, initiated the research into Tjalma’s wartime record. SGP had for years lobbied for a more critical approach to the legacy of Tjalma, whom many have considered a model mayor, according to the broadcaster RTV. The park was named for Tjalma shortly after his death in 1985.

Several years after World War II, the city under Tjalma took over part of the local Jewish cemetery and paved a road on it. That part of the cemetery was returned to Jewish hands in 2019.

The Amsterdam-based Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies earlier this year confirmed the research done in Hogeveen by local historian Albert Metselaar, prompting the municipality to change the park’s name on July 26, Jonet reported.

This article originally appeared on JTA.org.

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